Saturday, September 29, 2007

Jermaine allergic to chocolate. not necessarily allergic but rather, when he eats too much he has serious, in his words - "dookie". I say diarrhea.

a number of weeks back we had a cookie making party for the neighbors. i want the kids to know their neighbors and likewise. i want them to gain an appreciation for each other and their life together. therefore, we bake cookies together and give them away (p.s. this photo is two years old, but Jermaine is so cute in it).

throughout the cookie baking process each kid was given permission to eat two cookies each, double chocolate chip cookies (cake mix recipe of coarse). Ethan smeared more chocolate on his face than took inside his mouth. Destiny snatched her two up and made her way into the computer room to read. Kaylanie, the ever more becoming pacifist, helped mix the batter, took her cookies and decided it was time to leave. Jermaine grabbed his two, sat at the table and enjoyed each bite as his looked out the window and gazed. i, on the other had, got a bowl of bran flakes and began munching as i made my way around - watching and kissing all of the wandering hands throughout our apartment. Preventing what i could like play-dough being mashed into our carpet and letting go what in the long-run simply just doesn't matter, like kids sneaking extra cookies from behind our backs.

each little child asking what i was eating and if they could taste. with excitement in my breath i answered with a resounding "YES!" and preceded to tell them what bran flakes were, why they are good for you, what fiber is, what food fiber is found it etc., and in the end offering them a little bit of knowledge (because they like to talk about this stuff) that fiber does indeed help you go dookie when it feels like you need to go but can't. i told them apples help you go dookie too. they laughed, fell on the floor laughing and preceded to eat up the rest of my bran flakes.

upon returning back to the kitchen i saw that Jermaine had eaten his two cookies and noticed a couple more gone. oh well - thinking he'll understand tonight why he should listen and why it's important to obey.

well he did experience the consequences of eating too much chocolate, he did indeed. The next afternoon when i went to pick him up Coco, his "dad", told me he had diarrhea last night. i giggled, we talked about how it was probably from too much chocolate and i told him i would make sure no cookies were dispensed that day. he said okay.

when we returned to our home i pulled Jermaine aside and asked him how his belly was feeling. he said okay. i asked him if he had an serious dookie last night. he said yes. i asked him if he thought it was maybe because he ate too much chocolate yesterday. he said no. with a hint of surprise in my voice i asked, "you don't? why do you think you had an overflow of dookie then?" his response: "well, i didn't tell my mom this, but i think it was the bran flakes. i'm not going to tell her because i don't want to stop eating bran flakes."

giggling inside i kissed him, turned him around facing away, slapped his little butt and sent him into the living room.

i'm not telling her either.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

how will we ever make time for work?

God is healing me, just thought you would like to know. sorry we're lame in continuing to provide up-dates, but life here has just settled and we're intentionally seeking to bask in it before the storm of employment begins next week - yes, next week.

presently jake bas been working mon. - thurs. evenings teaching at a local community college down the road. it has been such a blessing. enough to pay the bill with a little left over to spare. yet, being the stud that he is - he was offered a full-time position with Chicago Commons, one of the oldest social service agencies in chicago. he will be doing what he does best, teaching ESL full-time.

because we go everywhere together i was waiting in the car wednesday when he stopped by to fill out some paper-work. jake shared with his potential employers that i was reading in the car and they asked that i come up and meet the gathering crowd of employees (i believe 6 in total at his location). sugar, spice and sass were served up with a most warming welcome. God is so good.

i, on the other hand have been offered two jobs and will need to make the decision this afternoon by 12. one is with Youth Outreach Services as an addiction and life skills counselor for adolescents on the north-side - the other, with Garfield Counseling Center as a treatment counselor for adults at a methadone maintenance (mm) clinic located in West Garfield Park.

i think i'm leaning toward the mm clinic. it's where i'm feeling led to be - i believe personally it will be more challenging in so many different ways that i can feel my brain already start to take action, creating new ways of practicing and loving those I believe He loves best. I'm excited about the possibility of both but anticipating accepting the one that i feel best fits for where i'm at during this time of transition.

we've been so very much enjoying the time we have here, bathing in the conversations and opportunities for loving and being loved with our neighbors. Eddie, whose 9 years in prison and history of drug trafficking and use has lead him to take on the role as my addiction adviser, has been a God send. John & Elena, two hippies in their late 70's - well John actually is 70 while Elena is 79 with bright red dyed hair. we spent this past sun. afternoon talking on their front porch for hours and walked away with bags of fabric for crafts and "junk" they wanted to get rid of. p.s. Elena volunteers to work with the seniors at salvation army two days a week. yeah. Lani, a friend next door, started baby-sitting more to earn a little extra income, which is exciting. without papers, her ability to work is so limited. i've also met a great gal down the way... geeze louise, there are some many more most God given opportunities we have had... i must wait to share the rest.

and then there were kids. our numbers our ever increasing which is gladly leading to an increased contact with their parents/grandparents. Praise God! every day from typically 3ish to 7ish, our home and front porch are filled. in fact, yesterday Justin, who just last week told me i was ugly, stupid, amongst other choice words after i asked him to pick up the trash bin he pushed over, came over and asked when he could come over for dinner. I told him anytime. he asked if i would serve him ribs. i told him probably not. he asked about steak. i shared again, probably not. i loved him, he gave me a now & later and left. with a visible smile and kind words on his lips. in total, yesterday we had eight kids over. so many hands. so many feet. so much beauty.

the struggle - kids who don't have any boundaries, were born to mothers who smoke and drank when pregnant and the learning limitations that come with those two things. we're working on it, and thank God in the more pure sense for Jake. we trade kids often during homework time. lack of attention. lack of inability to care, listen and comprehend tasks makes it difficult at times. yesterday i almost lost it. Andre (5) pushed me, or truthfully speaking - i chose to be affected by Andre's behavior. I picked him up, had him put his shoes on, grab his unfinished school work and began walking him down the stairs toward home, where he wanted to go (to escape doing his homework for himself). mid-flight I sat him down, looked in his eyes told him (for my sake as much as his) that he was a beautiful child of God and lead him back upstairs. we finished our one page of homework, writing "G" & "g", one hour later.

so much work to do, inside me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Google Earth

For those of you who know about such things and have Google Earth installed on their computers, you can go to these coordinates and check out a photo of Tatiwin, Morocco, Africa that we posted.

32.5912° -4.7651°

It is one of our favorite places, and we would like to share it.

Note: You have to have the "Geographic Web: Panoramio" checked as visible.


Monday, September 17, 2007

computers & celebration.

although i have a mind full of thoughts, questions and ideas that are just waiting for my legs to give out and my fingers to take the time and give them a voice. never-the-less, there are more important things in this life besides make-up conflicts, product snobbery, lack of socks, meeting jesus (literally) and successful interviews.

we have made the commitment to fast every from sun-up to sun-down, 9/23/07 - 10/14/07 in the name of our international neighbors (sponsored by Jubilee USA) as well as our immediate neighbors. our international neighbors are starving in the name of international debt. our immediate neighbors are being killed in the name of gang on gang territory wars.

edgar just came over. he is a 10th grader at our local high school, Kelvyn Park. he has been a friend of ours for a number of years and his family (Erik-13, Giovianni-5, Pedro-Dad, and Grandma-79) have been our refuge since moving back. recently we discovered that edgar, along with his friends, have been paying $3 an hour to use internet at the lab down the street. after some consideration we decided to set up a hopeful 2 computer (we only have one extra right now) lab here for edgar and friends to use for $2 and hour with the following promise - at the end of each school marking period they need to bring us their report card. if they get between a 3.5-4.0 they get 100% of their cash back. 3.0-3.5, 90% back; 2.5-3.0, 70%; 2.0-2.5, 40%; and anything under that - forget it. all monies that they do not get back will continue to be compiled into next marking periods cash. it's working well - after much initial cynicism, their locked in.

Lani lives down the street, doesn't have any papers and would like to gain an education but cannot due to her inability to pay for it without all of the gov. assistance one gets with citizenship. Although I haven't seen her in three days we're going to offer her one of our computers to take on-line typing (she wants to be an office assistant and/or computer tech.) classes, etc. we'll charge her $5 an hour with a full return when she needs to make the advance to take classes through a comm. college.

oh - there is so much more to share but the bread needs to be put in our toaster oven (it's our only oven), tomorrow is trash day - those who are homeless are out and about in our alley (ugh - edgar is reading over our shoulder and apparently is vehemetly opposed to feeding the homeless although jake did give him the invisible children DVD to watch the other day and he did. he has questions. good questions. he's growing up.) + we like to go alley shopping, and yeah - i have to get prepared for doing tangrams tomorrow with the kids, more-less Destiny.

oh man - i just introduced edgar to urban dictionary. nothing but bad news. i wish i was more like jake and taught him google earth - so much more productive and educational.

for/with some laughs and love.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thanks to Cory on his Ramadan post last year here is a dedication to the beginning of Ramadan, sung to the tune of who really knows:

Ramadan time is here
the best time of the year.

fasting, not eating food
being nice, not being rude.

instead of watching movies all day
lets go to the mosque now and pray.

i can't wait to make my zakat
maybe 8 or twenty ducat

In honor though, of those who are more loving than us, we give you Rebecca & Hajo's thoughts on the beginning of Ramadan.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Here's how it went:

Arrival to Department of Human Services = 7:00am (we attempted to go yesterday but found cuddling in bed a bit too enticing)

Number of people in line at 7:00am = 15

Number of people in line at 8:00am when the doors opened = at least 75

Time waiting in line until application submitted = 1 1/2 hours

Time waiting to be called in by a case manager = 45 mins.

Number of white people in waiting room = three. us being two of them.

Number of minutes spent with case manager = 10

you ask...

Available for Medicaid? Nope. Gotta get knocked up, as Jacob says, before we are able to get insurance. so much for prevention America!

Available for food stamps? She wanted to go through it all and see but I told her not to worry about it. Too many people in the waiting room who needed it besides us. I didn't have the heart to take up their time and/or money.

So, you ask, what are you doing with all of your time?

Great question!

In addition to kids coming over basically everyday after school and doing homework/playing, I have been doing a couple home visits, tonight am going to a funeral for a dear woman who died on Monday and continuing the job search.

Ugh - the job search. I'm lowering my expectations and probably becoming more flaky as time passes. which probably means I'll be getting a job soon. Enshallah.

During the day though = Jake and I have been canning and preparing. Since Grandma (our neighbor) got hit by a car we have been care-taking her garden. Not wanting her to miss out on all of it's fruits (ha! ha!) we have been working to preserve some herbs, tomatoes, and beans for her return.

Boiling & Peeling




A snippet of the "before"


The unshelling

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

racism. sexism. & religion.

first = racism.

after now, officially, one month of unemployment, jake and i decided to bite the bullet and apply for medicaid and food stamps. not a big deal for us. we need health insurance. after one year of having our medical needs catered for over-seas where an appointment & prescriptions can cost a total of $10 - together, we know that being uninsured in the US is not a wise choice.

food stamps = wasn't truly on our radar. in fact - in all reality, we don't need it. yet, we are unemployed, often cooking and baking food for others (which we're not going to stop doing). food costs money - although very little money if you know where to go for the good stuff. it was at Pedro's suggestion that we apply, although according to the food stamp calculator - together we're eligible for a grand total of $70 a month. he assured us that we can get off of it as fast as we got on them. with the experience of applying, processing and having the ability to jump through some of the same hoops i often encourage others to jump through - we decided to go for it.

food stamps & medicaid. we completed the initial 10 page application (extremely simple to complete with only two members of the household who have no children, other household dependents, others forms of income, etc.) and this morning with optomism in my heart we jumped on our bikes at 8:10am to submit our requests and set up an appointment with a social worker (ahh. the idea of sitting on the other side of the desk). with the knowledge that it is post holiday with the first business day of the month, i had an intuitive feeling that it may be packed. and it was. jake sat outside with our bikes as i ventured inside. once inside a white handsome male asked me what i was there for, looked at me strangly when i told him, and pointed me into a long line in the waiting room for giraffes (hot! & humid!). yet, when i looked at the sign at the end of the line it said "appointments with case manager." since i was the last one in line i decided to check and confirm that i was indeed in the right line for submitting our application. instead of the cute, ear-pierced white security guard - a beautiful, actually, black woman was in his place. i apologized for interrupting (she was thinking - i think) and asked her what line i needed to be in to submit our application. she told me that they do not accept new applicants after 8:30am (it was 8:40am) and that we needed to get there in the morning at around 7:00am to get in line "like everyone else."

i had suspicions of her statement, but every organization has it's quirks and in the city of chicago i can see that this may be true. for social workers can only process so many applicants per day. there has to be a daily cut-off. yet, i pondered on our way home her statement, "like everyone else."

as we pulled up to our street our friend Eddie was sitting outside watching the construction crew tare up our sidewalks to help our backed-up sewer breathe. He asked where we had been and jake shared with him where we were and what happened. Eddie's response, "you were just the wrong color."

He continued, "play it by their game once, but if it happens again, go to the people over them. I don't think that what they told you was right."

tomorrow morning we'll see if the game is still in session.

now = sexism

*** graphic words contained in the following segment ***

last night we watched the movie "North Country," a movie about the first class-action law suit against sexual harassment. good. so good.

it made me wonder though, are there any women out there who have NOT been sexually harassed? Are there any women who have not yet encountered the gross disgust of men who get their kicks and giggles from sexually harassing women.

i have shared with jake, and now i'll share with you = there are three vivid moments i will not forget, in which i was the victim of sexual harassment. there was the time when i was serving and a cook looked at me and called me a "c**t" among other various and less than creative names.

then there was the christmas shopping season of 2003. preparing for gift giving i was pacing the mall, stopping by stores who presented to have enticing bargins, like those JC Penny "one time only half off" sales - that are held every couple months. yeah - those sales.

i had entered into American Eagle to prowse their clearance racks and spotted a couple of items that i thought my sisters would enjoy. since we are all relatively the same size i thought i would try them on to see how they would look and deem them worthy of purchase or not. packed dressing rooms proved to be the case and no attendant was on duty - only locked doors with potential AE victims inside and me (along with the 50+ some other shoppers in this small manipulative closet). i looked around and no rooms seemed to be available except one!

weary and cautious, since it was only a crack open i glanced below: no feet. i knocked: no answer. i opened.

inside was a naked man. a naked man perched on top of the corner shelf for purses or wallets, jeans or tops. a naked man getting his kicks from unsuspecting victims such as myself.

i wish i could say i was bold enough to confront the staff or even the mall security, but i wasn't.

i slammed the door shut as hard as i could, threw the possible purchases on the chair outside the dressing rooms and ran. i ran out of the store. out of the mall. out to my car. i ran.

four weeks ago my parents, jake and i were moving in. it was/is such a joyous time. to celebrate we dined at the local polish buffet and gorged ourselves in perogies, bacon wrapped this and that, apple and potato pancakes.

with full tummies and a heavy legs we decided to walk it off and see around the Polish Village. Our first stop: a small shop going out of business. good deals! my dad got a coffee maker for $10. us - cleaning supplies, paper plates for painting, toilet paper and a could latch-key tools. but there was so much to explore! the shop was a mess! everything was everywhere and there were corners abundant to explore! so that is exactly what i did - explore! i moved clothes racks, climbed over boxes and shelves, dug my way through masses of "stuff." i was not alone though.

a man i had seen perched outside of the polish buffet was following me back. i was aware. i wasn't in any danger - the store really wasn't that big. but i knew he was a creep and i was aware. it wasn't too long after i had given him "the glance" that he pulled out of his pocket an imitation of a penis. he looked at me, giggled it around, set it down next to me and left.

i gave him a look that made me sick to my stomach and stood there. i didn't tell me parents. i didn't even tell jake until a couple days later. i still have to wonder though, if i - i, jessica kathleen, am a victim of these three simple sexual harassments, how many other women encounter it on a daily basis, on a much deeper and consistent basis, and tell no one.

it's shameful for me to a degree i think. i'm not sure why, for "they" are the ones to be shamed. still... how many of us have experiences such as these and don't talk about it or stand up against it but flee from it, like me.

and for the grand finale = religion.

as you may have been able to pick up from previous posts - it's been a difficult time here. spiritual battles. emotional battles. mental battles. whatever.

but still - to my amazement (yes, i should have stopped being amazed at God years ago - but I can't seem to shake it) God has continued to be faithful. so faithful.

He has shared with me that I am not faithful nor willing.
i'm learning again.

He has shared with me that I am no longer free.
i'm learning again.

He has also shared with me this: "Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." - 1 Peter 5:5-11

i opened my Bible for the first time in months. i'm sorry to all of those who thought i was better than that. i'm not.

and this is what he sent into my these eyes of dirty and avoidant flesh.

This passage has spoke more to me than what's simply stated in bold. yet, this is the promise He has given me to hold onto as jake and i continue to try and live.

it will only last a little while.

He will restore.
make us strong.

p.s. i had to interrupt this writing because some new kids just came and rang our doorbell (thanks Dad DeBoni). they played. i walked them home and just spent the last 1 1/2 hours talking with them, their family, a new girl i met and Eddie. God is growing and Jake's having left-overs for dinner tonight.